This weekend I was a judge at a fine arts competition that I used to compete in when I was in high school. It’s kind of cool how it comes back around like that, and it also makes me feel pretty old. I used to get so nervous looking at the judges before I performed a skit or song I had written. Now, I was one of the people making the students nervous.
With that in mind, I tried to be as friendly as possible before they went up. I wanted to be joking around and smiling. For some of the students, it’s the first time they’ve ever tried being in front of anyone before. I didn’t want to be the one to kill their spirits.
Still, as with any competition, there had to be winners and losers. Not everyone can get first place. When I would compete, I always hated when judges would just give you scores and not tell you why in the score section. You’d just see that you lost points but didn’t know why. I wanted to make sure I gave some instructions on how to get better, but also give encouragement. Hopefully I did it well.
It’s easy to critique. It’s easy to judge. It’s easy to pick apart what someone’s doing that we don’t agree with. The hard part is encouraging. But I feel it’s the most necessary part.
If you really care about someone, you shouldn’t just want to just correct them, you should want to encourage them as well. I believe that so much that I pretty much won’t listen to anyone who only wants to give me advice.
If they make good points, I’ll accept it, but I usually won’t return to them for advice unless I feel like they actually care about the encouragement factor. I’ve found out that a lot of people can feel important by spitting out a bunch of corrections or judgments, but I don’t need important people speaking in my life. I need loving people.
This is not to say that everyone needs everything to be sugarcoated. If I’m screwing up bad, I might need someone to punch me in the face. But if all they want to do is punch at all times, then that’s not someone I want to be around. That’s a bully.
It’s easy to become a bully, even if you’re honestly not trying to be one. We have to think about what we’re saying, and what they’re hearing. It’s worth thinking before you speak.
Sometimes I find myself thinking, “I know you care about me, but you don’t encourage me.” When I feel like that, I don’t really care to discuss my matters anymore with that person. A good friend or leader can rebuke us, but they will also see the good in us.
What kinds of people are speaking into your life? Maybe it’s time to tune some out. What kinds of words are you speaking into someone else’s life? Are you a bully or a friend?